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March 23, 2017

NCOSE Releases Its Anti-Freedom 'Freedom From Sexploitation' Agenda

TRUMPINGTON, D.C.—With the Religious Right firmly in power in the nation's capital, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) figured it'd be a good time to roll out its legislative agenda for the next four years, and who knows? With the Sociopath-In-Chief generally delegating such "domestic" matters to his underlings, there's little doubt that once Congress is done destroying healthcare, the environment, the schools, gay/trans rights, immigrants' rights and the rights of "certain religions," it might look favorably upon NCOSE's anti-sex agenda—or at least use it as a distraction from whatever the administration doesn't want to get too much attention at the time. In fact, it's surprising that NCOSE (formerly Morality in Media) waited until this past Monday to hold a press conference touting the release of its "Freedom From Sexual Exploitation Agenda," whose opening paragraph states, "America is suffering from a sexual exploitation crisis. Sex trafficking, sexual assault, child sexual abuse, pornography, and more, are issues significantly impacting American citizens, families, and communities. This necessitates that our federal government address the full spectrum of sexual harm. ... We also know that pornography is often made of sex trafficked women and children, and increases the demand for buying sex. Further, females who consume pornography are at greater risk of being a victim of sexual harassment or sexual assault." "Crisis" is the Religious Right's (and conservatives') current favorite word. Whether it's an "immigration crisis" that requires that Muslims be banned from entering the country (or building mosques somewhere) or a "healthcare crisis" that requires stripping millions of citizens of their health insurance ... or that familiar "pornography is a public health crisis" that legislatures across the country are now passing resolutions condemning, without having any idea what they're talking about—but it's a CRISIS, damnit, and we have to DO SOMETHING about it! And rest assured, NCOSE has plenty of ideas about what to do—16 of them, in fact, all laid out in their "Policy & Legislative Recommendations to Curb Sexual Exploitation"—and of course, since "sexual exploitation" is in their name, objective #1 is to get rid of sites like Backpage.com, which recently took down its adult listings after its owners were browbeaten in congressional hearings. But where one falls, another is sure to rise, so NCOSE wants Congress to "Amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) of 1996 to allow prosecution of those who facilitate illegal commercial sex acts via the Internet." "Ironically, courts have recently interpreted section 230 of the CDA as shielding sex trafficking and prostitution websites from criminal and civil liabilities in cases involving the facilitation of sex trafficking via the Internet," the agenda states. "As a result, sex trafficking is flourishing on the Internet, and those profiting from the sexual exploitation of countless individuals have repeatedly escaped justice." In fact, the vast majority of "adult services" ads on sites like Backpage involve adults offering their consensual sexual services to other adults—and if prostitution were legal, as a variety of organizations including Amnesty International have championed, it would be easier to weed out the few ads from traffickers from those of legitimate sex workers. But don't worry; NCOSE also has agenda item #6, which begins, "As the 2013 Trafficking in Persons Report observed, 'If there were no demand for commercial sex, sex trafficking would not exist in the form it does today. This reality underscores the need for continued strong efforts to enact policies that prohibit paying for sex.' Thus, it is imperative that DOJ, under the provisions of the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, prosecute those who 'solicit or patronize' victims of human trafficking for the purpose of commercial sex acts." [Emphasis in original] Now, what's stated above would likely not be a problem for anyone—except NCOSE then goes on to say, "DOJ should also work with its federally funded anti-trafficking task forces to ensure the investigation, arrest, and prosecution of persons who purchase sexual acts, as part of a concerted effort to combat the demand for sex trafficking." In other words, for NCOSE, it doesn't actually matter if the person providing the sex is trafficked or not; they want everyone who "purchase[s] sexual acts" to be arrested and prosecuted. What's more, they also want (item #7) for the U.S. to maintain its "abolitionist approach to combating human trafficking by recognizing that activities such as prostitution, pimping, pandering, and maintaining of brothels contribute to the phenomenon of trafficking in persons; and formalizes the U.S. government’s opposition to prostitution and related activities as inherently harmful and dehumanizing," and (item #8) "Immediately nominate an individual to the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Trafficking in Persons at the U. S. Department of State who is committed to combating all forms of human trafficking (sex and labor trafficking), and who will address the role of demand for commercial sex in the crime of sex trafficking." From all this, it's pretty clear that NCOSE will never understand that the best way to combat sex trafficking is through legalizing sex work and monitoring the workers to make sure they're free from disease and, as importantly, coercion—but religio-conservatives have always been fucked up about sex, so really, no surprises here. Just sadness. Perhaps even sadder is that NCOSE wants the U.S. government to penalize other countries who don't toe the line when it comes to prostitution legalization (items #9 & 10)—and even agencies within our own country, like the Office on Violence Against Women and the U.S. Department of Education (item #11), which should "review their institutional policies and practices for ways in which they can share research, provide educational materials, and institute policies, regarding pornography’s role in exacerbating sexual violence." [Emphasis added] That horseshit is based upon a 2015 "meta-analysis" of 22 studies from seven countries which supposedly "provides clear evidence confirming that pornography exposure is significantly associated with sexual aggression"—except, of course, it doesn't, since for several of the studies that were "meta-analyzed," the researchers couldn't even identify how many participants took part in the study, and several other earlier, more comprehensive studies, most notably by researcher Dr. Neil Malamuth, found exactly the opposite. Of course, since NCOSE's predecessor organization was founded to rid the country of sexually explicit books, magazines and films, the agenda's #2 objective is, "Instruct the U.S. Attorney General to vigorously enforce current federal obscenity laws 18 U.S.C. §1460 to 18 U.S.C. §1470." Those sections of the United States Code prohibit doing pretty much anything with material deemed to be "obscene"—making it, selling it, importing it, mailing it, transporting it across state lines, broadcasting it, showing it to kids, etc.—though we suspect that the section that gets NCOSE members the wettest is §1467, "Criminal Forfeiture," where the government can seize from anyone convicted of trafficking in obscenity "any property, real or personal, constituting or traceable to gross profits or other proceeds obtained from such offense." There's just one problem: Americans like their sexual material. DVD and magazine sales may be down somewhat, but online porn sites are booming, and it's been estimated that porn is a $97 billion business worldwide—and American juries pretty much anywhere except the Deep South (and often, not even there) have no interest in putting someone in prison for selling the material that at least some members of the jury and their pals are getting off to. There's also one agenda item devoted specifically to 18 U.S.C. §1464, "Broadcasting obscene language," where NCOSE wants the Federal Communications Commission to "vigorously enforce" that section "to protect children from damaging sexual content on television," and it also wants Dear Leader to "appoint FCC commissioners committed to fulfilling this misson." But the agenda is hardly done with media, both adult and mainstream. Agenda item #14 wants Congress to "Disband the current TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board (TVOMB)" because, you know, it's "a sham composed of broadcast television insiders, and is utterly lacking in congressional oversight and public transparency" that has "enabled and sheltered a flawed content ratings system" because shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, Last Man On Earth, The Mick, Law & Order: SVU, and all the NCISes "may include gratuitous sex, explicit dialogue, violent content, or obscene language" but are rated something other than TV-MA. NCOSE also wants Congress to expand the Family Movie Act of 2005, which allowed the development of technology that would edit cable and even DVD movies (mainstream and otherwise) to remove "bad" language and images "on the fly." Trouble is, according to NCOSE, "Today the preferred method for viewing movies has shifted from DVD to streaming," and NCOSE wants the law updated so that movies streaming on Netflix or Hulu or AppleTV can also be censored. So far, such censorship is voluntary, but since censorship is NCOSE's business model, we can't help but worry what such laws might mean for adult. The agenda also targets the U.S. military in a couple of points. It wants to require (item #3) that soldiers, sailors, etc. be "informed" about the so-called "harms of pornography," and (item #4) that all military personnel be forbidden from entering strip clubs anywhere in the world! Because, after all, "Military personnel participating in the consumption of commercial sex at strip clubs fuel the demand for sex trafficking." (Whaaa?) Oh; and let's not forget other government employees, because NCOSE didn't. That's item #12, "Pass H.R. 680 'Eliminating Pornography from Agencies Act'," which would prohibit any government employee from watching porn on his (or her!) computer at work. But the most potentially dangerous recommendation in this whole agenda may be item #5, which calls on the U.S. Surgeon General and the Department of Health and Human Services to create a study "into the public health harms of pornography," which should include "a nationally representative survey of pornography use among adolescents and adults; a meta-analysis of the neurological studies linking pornography use to compulsive behaviors; the association between adult pornography use and child sexual exploitation; the association between pornography consumption and sexual violence generally, and violence against women in particular; the association between pornography use and sex buying behaviors; the association between pornography use and child-on-child sexual abuse; pornography’s impacts on other sexual behaviors and attitudes among adolescents and adults; the impacts of pornography use on intimate relationships; the link to erectile and sexual dysfunctions; transmission of STDs; and detrimental impacts on brain health; etc." Trouble is, as anyone who's spent any time reading the studies that have already been done ad nauseam of these same claims knows that a lot of them are crap; there's nothing to them. There is no "neurological link" between porn use and compulsive behavior." There is no "association between adult pornography use and child sexual exploitation"—child predators aren't interested in adult porn! There is no link between porn and not being able to get a hard-on. There is no link between using porn and getting or giving an STD. And Judith Reisman's fantasies aside, there are no "detrimental impacts" of porn use on "brain health"—"erototoxins (or whatever they're calling them these days) don't exist! Now, after all that, believe it or not, there is one recommendation we can get behind: #16, "Pass S.534 'Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017'." This would "require amateur athletics governing bodies to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to local or federal law enforcement, or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department," and ensure that those who do report such allegations don't suffer any blowback from the school because of such reporting. That's a damned good idea—and it's too bad that it's surrounded by such a ration of shit. The full NCOSE report can be found here. Read it and weep.

 
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